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Facebook Buyout Ended Oculus and Valve’s Cooperation, Report Suggests

The news that Oculus VR was to be purchased by Facebook for $2 billion USD was met with much controversy when it was revealed last year. While many were excited by the announcement, others had a more negative reaction. Minecraft creator Markus Persson, for example, quickly announced that he had cancelled plans for a free version of his title for the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD). According to a report spinning out of the 2015 Game Developers Conference (GDC), the deal also caused conflict between Oculus VR and SteamVR creator Valve.

HTC Vive

Rock, Paper, Shotgun Managing Editor Graham Smith revealed as much on a recent edition of The Crate & Crowbar podcast. Speaking about the HTC Vive HMD, which was created in partnership with Valve and its SteamVR system, Smith stated that the previously fruitful relationship between Oculus VR and Valve broke down after the former was purchased by Facebook.

“I asked an HTC guy, was it hard to change Valve’s mind?” Smith said. “And he said that he didn’t know the full story, but what he’d heard was that everything was cool and then Facebook bought Oculus and then stuff wasn’t so cool anymore. And he described it as Valve went to plan B at that point when Oculus stopped being so forthcoming with stuff. That was kind of interesting, seeing all the different prototypes they’d made in that light.”

Previously Valve had said that it didn’t intend to release a consumer product, and would be support Oculus VR itself. Smith’s story seems to suggest that the buyout turned this situation around. He went on to detail the beginnings of Valve and HTC’s relationship at the Steam Dev Days in 2014 in which Valve allowed attendees to see its prototype HMD in a specific room plastered with markers on the walls and ceiling. HTC reportedly approached the company after seeing its work and suggested working together to make it a commercial product. The HTC Vive is the result of that partnership.

The Vive is expected to launch in time for holiday 2015, while a release date for the consumer version of the Oculus Rift is yet to be announced. VRFocus will continue to follow work from both companies, reporting back with any further updates.